I’ve been involved in some interesting and heart-felt discussions lately on the ‘Net about honor and the same points seem to pop up every time:
What IS honor?
How is it applicable in the twenty-first century?
Why should we be concerned with it?
The biggest gap in agreement seems to be exactly what honor IS. From one point of view, honor is something to be preserved at any cost, as when someone insults you. Another view is that honor is a duty to a country or a cause. A third perspective is that honor is intimately involved with “saving face”.
For the purposes of this article I’m going to present MY concept of honor, one which has been drilled into me from years of martial arts training. Feel free to leave a comment about how much you agree – or disagree.
There are three main constituents of honour as it relates to a Scholar-Warrior – obligation, courage and justice. I want to briefly touch on all three in the hopes of helping you understand my viewpoint.
Once again, not a definition that comes readily to mind – this justice is NOT dispensed by judges in black robes; rather it is simply knowing the difference between right and wrong, intuitively, without the need to consult law books or popular opinion.
Taken together, these three precepts are a powerful force for a Scholar-Warrior. They give him/her a certain strength, a humanistic imperative if you will, to do that which is right and to take steps against that which is wrong.
How is Honor Applicable in the 21st Century?
With all of the technological wonders and personal problems that we’re exposed to on a daily basis, we tend to forget that which is most important in our lives. Our hurried pace allows no time to just stop and think about deeper issues such as honor; instead, we usually rely on some type of innate sense of right and wrong, and will only go to a certain length to defend that ideal. If it becomes inconvenient or takes too long to accomplish, we ignore the task and move on to something easier.
But real honor takes work, hard work and plenty of it. To forget your obligations is to lead a hollow life; to ignore injustices is to be two-faced; and to run from moral dilemmas is certainly cowardice. A Scholar-Warrior never lives life this way.
Today more than ever we have a NEED for honorable people performing honorable actions. We might be technologically advanced but our spirits are lagging behind as we put honor into the category of “outdated ideals”.
Why Should We Concern Ourselves with the Concept of Honor?
I mentioned “spirits” in the last paragraph, and this might be the core of the reasons why we should be aware of honor. Our physical bodies die off and return to the earth in one form or another; our minds are shut down when the electrical impulses stop firing. But the spirit – THAT is eternal. Sending a spirit that is damaged by dishonorable actions into eternity is a fool’s errand, and the Scholar-Warrior recognizes this. In sharpening both their idea and practice of honor, they prepare themselves not only for THIS world but for whatever follows.